The Fall of Zedekiah


Text: Jeremiah 52:1-11

 

I.         The fall of Jerusalem and the end of the kingdom of Judah was a sad time period.

            A.        Josiah was the last good king of Israel, but the kings that ruled after him did evil in the sight of God.

            B.        King Jehoiachin began his reign at the age of 18. He lasted 3 months before Nebuchadnezzar came, besieged Jerusalem for 8 years, and then led all the elite into captivity - II Kings 24:8-12

            C.        Zedekiah, Jehoiachin’s uncle, was placed on the throne by Nebuchadnezzar - II Kings 24:17-20

                        1.         Yet Zedekiah rebelled against God and against the king who gave him the throne.

                        2.         II Chronicles 36:11-17 lists the sins of Zedekiah

II.        Zedekiah refused to accept the pronouncements of God

            A.        God warned him from the beginning of his reign that his only hope was in submitting to Nebuchadnezzar - Jeremiah 27:1-11

            B.        Jeremiah pleaded with the king to listen to God and ignore the false prophets.

                        1.         There were many prophets willing to tell the king that he would succeed in throwing off the yoke of Babylon.

                        2.         Zedekiah preferred their message.

                        3.         Even when one of the more vocal false prophets, Hananiah, died in fulfillment of Jeremiah’s prophecy, proving that Jeremiah spoke for God, still Zedekiah did not listen. (Jeremiah 28)

            C.        There was not rational reason for listening to the false prophets, but this is what Zedekiah did.

            D.        Eventually, Nebuchadnezzar came to collect against his rebellious king

III.       Zedekiah hoped for a miracle - Jeremiah 21:1-10

            A.        It is interesting that Zedekiah’s messenger is Pashhur. Pashhur was the priest who earlier had Jeremiah beaten for prophesying the fall of Jerusalem - Jeremiah 19:14-20:2

            B.        I wonder if Zedekiah was trying to intimidate Jeremiah or simply was unthinking.

            C.        Jeremiah’s message was that Zedekiah’s only hope was to surrender to Nebuchadnezzar.

            D.        Zedekiah made a show of pleasing God. The law required the release of all slaves on the year of Jubilee. This Zedekiah commanded, but then had all the slaves put back into slavery - Jeremiah 34:8-16.

                        1.         The Lord, of course, was not pleased by this shallow display of contempt.

                        2.         What a mockery of obedience!

                        3.         We see that Zedekiah was not a man of his word.

            E.        Zedekiah made a deal with the Egyptians to rescue Judah, but God would not let it succeed - Jeremiah 37:1-10

                        1.         The Egyptians retreated.

                        2.         The Israelites did get a small reprieve while the Babylonians drove off the Egyptians - Jeremiah 37:11

            F.        Jeremiah, though, was arrested as he was about to leave the city on charges of treason - Jeremiah 37:13-16

IV.      Zedekiah looked for a way out, but he wanted it on his terms

            A.        Jeremiah 37:17-21 - Zedekiah brings Jeremiah to him and we learn that Jeremiah’s imprisonment was no chance occurrence. It appears Zedekiah is trying to pressure Jeremiah to give him the answer he wanted.

            B.        He later allowed men to attempt to kill Jeremiah - Jeremiah 38:1-6

            C.        He then “rescued” Jeremiah at the urging of a good man - Jeremiah 38:7-13

            D.        Zedekiah again calls Jeremiah in for a private word - Jeremiah 38:14-23

V.        The final siege of Jerusalem began in the ninth year of Zedekiah’s reign. It lasted for over two years.

            A.        After the first year, Zedekiah has Jeremiah thrown back into prison - Jeremiah 32:1-5

            B.        He still refused to believe the message of Jeremiah. He wanted a different prophecy.

            C.        The siege became so severe that people were eating their own children - Jeremiah 52:6

            D.        During the eleventh year of Zedekiah’s reign, the outer wall of Jerusalem was breeched.

            E.        Even after all the warnings, Zedekiah did a cowardly thing. He took a select group of armed men and sneaked out of the city. - Jeremiah 52:7

                        1.         Because of his stubbornness, Jerusalem was sieged. People died.

                        2.         Now when it was certain the city would fall, Zedekiah was going to leave the city to the enemies!

            F.        He did not get very far, only about 15 miles - Jeremiah 52:8-11

                        1.         Thus he fulfilled the prophecy of Ezekiel - Ezekiel 13:12-13

VI.      What do we learn?

            A.        Man cannot change the will of God. The intimation of God’s messengers did not change the message.

            B.        They mocked the message, but the result remained - II Peter 3:3-12

            C.        You see the judgment of God has been pronounced on this world.

                        1.         People have tried to legislate religion out of their lives so they and their children do not need to hear the message.

                        2.         Christianity has become a point of derision in many areas of our country.

                        3.         Denominations are changing their message to soothe the people – there is no hell. God won’t judge you. We are all going to heaven.

                        4.         They only play at religion, much like Zedekiah, but it doesn’t change their lives.

                        5.         But nothing has changed. The end is fixed and we know the outcome.

            D.        Are you going to be like Zedekiah? Trying to force the answer you want or will you humble yourself before God and submit to his will?